Animal Science Department


First Advisor

Galen E. Erickson

Second Advisor

Andrea K. Watson

Third Advisor

Yijie Xiong

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Animal Science, Under the Supervision of Professors Galen E. Erickson and Andrea K. Watson. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2022

Copyright © 2022 Holly A. Heil


As global warming continues to rise, the pressure and growing demand for sustainable animal production is increasing. Livestock naturally produce greenhouse gas emissions through enteric fermentation. Dietary manipulation strategies have been sought out to decrease emissions in ruminants using feed additives.

Two independent finishing feedlot experiments evaluated two types of biochar and its effects on animal performance, carcass characteristics and greenhouse gas emissions. Experiment 1 utilized pistachio shell biochar and experiment 2 utilized biochar sourced from ponderosa pine wood waste, both types included at 1% of the diet DM. The addition of biochar to the diet did not impact animal performance or carcass characteristics in Exp. 1 and Exp 2. Methane and carbon dioxide emissions were unaffected in Exp. 1 and Exp.2

Innovative technology can be used as a tool to assist in livestock management decisions. Global positioning systems (GPS) has bridged the gap between the ability to accurately locate livestock and obtain real time data. An experiment was conducted to evaluate two GPS sensors. Yearling beef steers grazed a smooth bromegrass pasture between April and September. For one month, steers were monitored using two GPS collars to examine sensor functionality and data acquired. The sensors reported a 67.1% and 89.9% data fix rate finding a significant difference (P ≤ 0.01). The 89.9% fix rate sensor was chosen and continuously monitored livestock until grazing season ceased. On average, cattle gained 0.65 kg/d and traveled 2,673 m/d. There was no correlation between daily weight gain and distance traveled (P ≥ 0.76).

Advisor: Galen E. Erickson & Andrea K. Watson